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Archive for December 13th, 2010

WikiLeaks: Kibaki, Odinga should stop whining, man up and face the truth

Posted by Administrator on December 13, 2010

By Timothy Kaberia

The Wikileaks reports have obviously touched a raw nerve with the Kenyan administration. President Kibaki and Prime Minister Odinga have waxed themselves lyrical in their reaction to the leaks.

The two turned this year’s Jamhuri day celebrations into a Ranneberger-bashing session. Kibaki’s speech reminded me of the days when former President Moi would publicly lynch any foreign diplomat who dared criticize his strongman tactics. That is not to say Mr Kibaki is a strongman.

The most astonishing reaction to the leaks comes from Prime Minister Odinga. Mr Odinga started by dismissing the leaks as “gossip,” then came up with a fairytale of Johnnie Carson personally apologizing to him, then made a U-turn and went on the offensive against the US Ambassador.

I imagine Mr Odinga, who has always been pro-West realized that the leaks were not flattering about him, took off his gloves and embarked on a whirlwind of feeble jabs at the Ambassador. The man, as we know him is a fighter but on this he is fighting a hopelessly lost battle as he exposes his shortcomings further.

Whereas I have no intention of defending the ambassador, I must note that I fully recognize the potential of Kenya’s so-called “patriots” baying for failing to tag along with Kibaki and Odinga at a time when “Kenya’s” integrity is being questioned. Mr Odinga has been whipping up public emotions for the last couple of days by invoking state “sovereignty” among other calculated soundbites.

Politically savvy and shrewd at political spinning, Jaramogi’s son likened the Ambassador to former colonial governor McDonalds on Jamhuri day. Perfect choice of parallels, but Mr Odinga needs to be told unequivocally that Kenyans will not view anyone questioning Odinga’s, Kibaki’s or their cabinet’s integrity as amounting to questioning Kenyans’ integrity, sovereignty and the unwavering desire to move forward. To the contrary, many Kenyans feel the same way as the ambassador regarding Mr Kibaki, Mr Odinga and most of the ruling elite.

Kenyan youth

Any keen observer will note that Mr Odinga is not so much rattled by what the ambassador said in the leaked documents. Instead he is obsessed with the fact that the US embassy has been dealing “directly” with Kenyan youths. Why is he so mad at the fact that the ambassador has been going around the country meeting with youth groups and supporting their activities? Has Mr Odinga suddenly realized that it is a “dangerous” idea to have an empowered youth? Is this not the same Odinga who embraced former ambassador Smith Hempstone when he and other “young turks” of the late 80s and early 90s were threatened by the Moi regime?

Is this not the same Odinga who was so close to ambassador Ranneberger a few months ago whenever the ambassador lashed at the PNU wing of the coalition? Man up Mr Prime Minister, wake up to the reality that ‘you cannot have your cake and eat it too.” Ironically Mr Odinga does not believe that ‘what comes around goes around.’


Back to WikiLeaks. I can understand Mr Odinga being so mad because all along he thought he was Michael Ranneberger’s favorite in the ‘good cop bad cop’ game. I doubt he would have complained if the cables were all about the “evil axis” of Kibaki and Moi against the “good axis.” It does not work that way sir. The ambassador’s first duty is to truthfully advise Washington on the situation at post. Appeasing host country leaders is a matter of being courteous with them publicly while supporting what best serves America’s interests abroad. Appeasing host Presidents and Prime Minister is a matter of judgment and Mr Odinga, more than anyone else knows this is a decade’s old practice.

Move on

It is about time our politicians stopped whining about what has been said about them because some of it is true. How long will you continue whining? Others have taken it in stride and moved on. Saudi Arabia for instance, was confronted with a matter of national security in relation to their condemnation of Iran but they took it for what it is and categorically stated that this will not mess up its relations with Washington.

When foreign secretary Hillary Clinton called Turkish foreign minister to apologize over the leaks the Turkish minister assured her it was no big deal and quipped: “You should know what we also say about you.”

So, if you really want to hate back at Ranneberger you should probably consider leaking whatever our ambassador in Washington, Elkanah Odembo has to say about the Washington folks. Don’t just chest thump and act as if the entire 2.5 million documents in Julienne Assange’s possession are all about Kenya.


If I were Prime Minister Odinga I would probably seek to address the real issues raised in those controversial cables. The most shocking revelation is the Chinese involvement with the National Security Intelligence. If the Chinese are really working from Nyayo house and getting involved with our wiretapping and other communications gadgets, then that is a more serious threat to our national security and sovereignty than Kenyan youths being funded to “take over” the country’s leadership. If allegations of bribery by the Chinese are true then Mr Odinga needs to be talking to PLO Lumumba other than running around trying to divert attention.

President Kibaki and PM Odinga are accountable to Kenyans and not the other way around. Who doesn’t know that the coalition is a mess? The ambassador is damn right when he describes it as dysfunctional. Is it not obvious that the interests of the two wings of the coalition have more often than not preceded the common good of the country?

You do not even need to look further than the ODM sanctioning of the Ligale commission’s political gerrymandering just because the PNU wing feels slighted. Further, the delay in approving the committee to oversee the implementation of the new constitution is further illustration of the positioning, arm- twisting and triangulation that characterizes the coalition’s marriage of convenience.

If there is one thing the ambassador was spot on about is the culture of impunity fathomed and encouraged by both executives. Both have failed to rein in Ministers over corruption. Whereas Ruto was easily let go for what now appears as political differences other than a desire to pursue corrupt ministers, the PM has turned a blind eye on accusations of corruption against Ministers who are close to him. On the other hand, President Kibaki acts as if he can dance around the Artur brothers’ saga and make it disappear. These and many others are clear examples of impunity at the highest levels of government.

I could go on and on and analyze every single issue. While trying to sound relevant on the eve of his date with Moreno Ocampo, Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta also joined the fray in challenging the ambassador. However, his was the most misplaced tantrum as he tried to imply that the US had done nothing for the country while China was “helping us” with roads. As Finance Minister I would expect Uhuru to tell Kenyans that we get LOANS not AID from our beloved China. That is a topic for another day.

This campaign against the ambassador is obviously aimed at driving Ranneberger out of Nairobi. The Odinga-Kibaki strategy may succeed but I believe this will not be as a result of their pressure but rather Washington’s concern about their diplomat’s personal security following the leaks.

Kaberia is a Washington based former human rights activist in Kenya. He can be reached at tkaberia@yahoo.com


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Growing Up African

Posted by Administrator on December 13, 2010

By Arao Ameny

New York, NY (Ugandans Abroad)— A new reality show called “Growing Up African” recently launched in New York, portraying the life of a five-sibling family from Bukoba, Tanzania in the US.

A new reality show called Growing Up African showcases African life in New York, following the lives of five Tanzanian siblings.

A new reality show called Growing Up African showcases African life in New York, following the lives of five Tanzanian siblings.

The reality series is a show in both English and Kiswahili, and tries to show a positive portrayal of Africans.  The show reflects the struggles and triumphs of growing up in the United States with a distinctive African identity.  The series currently has five episodes available for viewing, through the Growing Up African website and You Tube.  The show also features music with a soundtrack from various singers all over the continent.

The African diaspora and their friends showed up last November for the launch party at Manhattan’s Bar 13, in the heart of New York City.

Rhoda Wasswas, an American-born Ugandan organized the event.  She decided to get involved about a month and a half ago, after knowing the Tanzanian family through mutual friends for about four to five years.  She believes the project shows a unique side of what it means to grow up in an African household in the US..

“I think Africans and Africans in the diaspora will gain a sense of understanding that the struggle and issues this family faces are universal, and cut across many Africans’ experiences living abroad in other countries or growing up here,” she said.

The five siblings are from the Lujwangana family- Johnson, Eliza, Bea, Andrew and Jesca, all in their twenties and living in New York.  Their mother Vicky is simply called Mama Vicky.

The audience will enjoy the diversity of the cast.   Eliza, the eldest, is a quiet personality that values everything natural, especially her hair.  Bea is a fashionable, stylish extrovert.   Jesca is a fiscally responsible young woman who saves money, and is lovingly referred to as “cheap” by her brother Johnson.  Stating that he has pride, Johnson seldom listens and can always be found somewhere in New York City attending an event.

Andrew, the youngest, is a little quiet and the most Americanized of the group, sometimes a little culturally disconnected from his other more Tanzanian-oriented siblings.

A Tanzanian Family Highlights the African Immigrant Experience in America

Johnson is a gregarious young man who went to school in Uganda and has a flair for speaking.  He said that the mission of the show is two-fold.  First, it will entertain viewers by following the lives of five diverse siblings with varying personalities.  Second and most importantly, Johnson said the show would introduce the family and an authentic part of Africa into the American mainstream.  It will also showcase the lives of Africans in America to an African audience back home.

Johnson traveled to Tanzania last March for his grandmother’s funeral, and filmed a documentary to capture the experience of this homecoming.  He hopes the show will make audiences question the long-held myths and stereotypes about Africa, while portraying a more relatable, positive African image.

Growing Up African will also touch on topics that the average African immigrant family experiences in America, Europe, or other parts of the world.  This includes self-acceptance, maintaining African culture while assimilating to American culture, without pretending to be something you’re not to fit into American culture. 

When asked why the show was called “Growing Up African” as opposed to “Growing Up Tanzanian,” Johnson said that the reality, whether people like it or not, is that Africans are grouped as a large, monolithic category by the rest of the world.

He said that this broad generalization can be offensive, but insisted that it also presented an opportunity to use the framework of the collective “African” identity to introduce the idea to audiences unfamiliar with Africa.

Audiences will be introduced to Africans first, and then the cast members will delve into what it means to be a Tanzanian or any other identity and nationality on the continent.

 Growing Up African’s Bea with the event organizer, American-born Ugandan Rhoda Wasswas, at Bar 13 in Manhattan.
Growing Up African's Bea with the event organizer, American-born Ugandan Rhoda Wasswas, at Bar 13 in Manhattan.

Growing Up African's Bea with the event organizer, American-born Ugandan Rhoda Wasswas, at Bar 13 in Manhattan.

Johnson’s story is a fascinating intersection of life in both Tanzania and Uganda, where he attended school, a story that many Africans can relate to.  “When I was or six or seven years old going to school in Uganda, I only spoke Kiswahili and Kihaya, so they thought I was deaf and mute, because they were speaking in English and Luganda.  My sister and I did not understand.”

He left Tanzania in 1998 when he was 12 years old, with his siblings soon following at different time.  “The main reason we came is to get an education, and equal opportunity,” he said.  “Opportunities in Tanzania, opportunities as a whole in Africa, are afforded to rich people as opposed to you if you are poor.  We came here to achieve the American Dream.”

Mama Vicky saved her money, slowly sending her children at different times to the United States.  Sharing the classic rags-to-riches story typically told in the U.S. or Europe, Johnson said, “When you hear about Africa, you hear the voices of the rich.  We struggled, and it is now time you hear about a family who was poor but struggled and made it.”

Tomorrow, you’ll listen to the voices of Bea, Eliza, and the other siblings.  We’d also love it if Ugandans Abroad readers watched some of the videos on You Tube, and let us know what you think.  Does the experience touch you as an African living abroad?

Arao Ameny is a New York-based journalist for Ugandans Abroad.  She is interested in issues like Ugandan cultural identities, Lango and other Ugandan languages, and women’s rights.

For more information:

Growing Up African‘s website.

Connect with Growing Up African cast members on Youtube

Connect with Growing Up African cast members on Facebook

Source: http://ugandansabroad.org/2010/12/02/growing-up-african/

Posted in Africa | 3 Comments »

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